Bring on the exclamation mark!

We could learn a lot from our Left libertarian chums at spiked about the proper use of the exclamation mark.

The sub-editors I grew up with imposed a virtual moratorium on the use the punctuation mark, peculiarly known in the trade as the bee’s dick, rightly assuming that readers don’t like being shouted at over breakfast.

There are moments, however, when declamation is the only proper response. In the debate on the repeal of the Keating hate speech laws, the defenders of illiberalism do not have a monopoly on passion.

The stakes are high. ‘Silencing the expression of opinion,’ wrote J S Mill, ‘is robbing the human race.’

The freedom manifesto! published by spiked demands:

No censorship – ever!

Freedom of speech must never be restricted. No state bans, no hate-speech legislation, no libel laws, no restriction on the press, no mob pressure on people to conform to modern orthodoxies.

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 5.43.01 amI have but one quarrel with the genetically modified Marxists at spiked: their reckless abandonment of the upper case. Proper respect for proper nouns! When do we want it? Now!

 

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58 Responses to Bring on the exclamation mark!

  1. C.L.

    I thought the old-time subs called it a doggy’s dick.

  2. 70s Playboy

    As long as it’s used as emphasis not to signify humorous intent. I think it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said that an exclamation mark was like laughing at your own jokes.

    Personally I like the lack of caps – they’re used way too much these days. the lower case makes adds to the subtlety of well made arguments

  3. Ed

    Spiked is an excellent site.

  4. Infidel Tiger

    I’ve noticed people now using exclamation marks in condolence notices:

    “I’m so very sorry for your loss! Mark was a great friend!! If you ever need someone please call!!! RIP mate!!!!!”

  5. hammy

    It’s a far right fascistic site. “Left libertarians”! What a stupid figment of Cater’s imagination.

  6. 70s Playboy

    Just noticed headline logo – spiked, all lower case and an upside down exclamation mark replacing the “i”. Hmmmm, coincidence – or not?

    As far as typesetting conspiracy theories go I was always a big fan of the backward ‘B” in the ABBA logo. It signified the Bjorn was dead…

  7. Mayan

    A quibble with the manifesto: freedom of speech, like all rights, is a human right, not a democratic right, because it exists independently of whether one’s peers think one should have it.

  8. 70s Playboy

    Hmmm, hammy – all lower case, no exclamation marks. Conspiracy?

  9. .

    “I’m so very sorry for your loss! Mark was a great friend!! If you ever need someone please call!!! RIP mate!!!!!”

    Stop reading the posts on Chopper’s memorial FB site, IT. That shit will rot your brain!

  10. areff

    Dog’s dick, Nick, dog’s dick!

    A bee’s dick better refers to the en spacings that, in the old hot-metal days, you inserted on the stone to H&J.

  11. manalive

    genetically modified Marxists at spiked …

  12. manalive

    genetically modified Marxists at spiked …

  13. candy

    lower case is more informal, more intimate, so perhaps it’s not ‘reckless abandonment’ of upper case but is used for a purpose?

  14. sparky

    …on the other hand, is it possible to overdo the exclamation mark?
    viz, this clip from Seinfeld.

    http://youtu.be/VSKn8RlD7Is

  15. Free Advice

    I read somewhere that the question mark is dissapearing, particularly for rhetorical questions!

  16. duncanm

    Nick,

    if you’re going to be a grammar-Nazi, you should proof read your own work:

    on the use of the punctuation mark

  17. nonmus

    Let’s not quibble over the use of ! or THIS, when seemingly half the population, including some online journalists, haven’t yet mastered the purpose and use of apostrophe’s, er apostrophes.

  18. Baldrick

    The exclamation rule:
    ! – point made, but not every sentence needs to be so interesting
    !! – okay, so you’re pissed off. I get it
    !!!! – you’re starting to sound loud and stupid
    !!!!!! – moron alert
    !!!!!!!!!! – see, I am a dickhead!

  19. Driftforge

    The rule I was once told was that in an article of any length, you may have one.

    In this case, I find the exclamation mark out of point. Ever is a declaration, unbreachable, immovable. Using a squeak mark next to it lessens its impact. It needs to be underlined, or in bold face.

    No censorship – ever.

  20. Empire Strikes Back

    The undisputed champion of the exclamation mark was the late Theo Geisel.

  21. Gab

    History:

    Graphically the exclamation mark is represented as a full stop point with a vertical line above. One theory of its origin is that it is derived from a Latin exclamation of joy (io). The modern graphical representation is believed to have been born in the Middle Ages. The Medieval copyists used to write at the end of a sentence the Latin word io to indicate joy. The word io meant hurray. Along time, the i moved above the o, and the o became smaller, becoming a point. [1] [2]

    The exclamation mark was first introduced into English printing in the 15th century to show emphasis, and was called the “sign of admiration or exclamation”[3] or the “note of admiration” until the mid-17th century;[4] admiration referred to its Latin sense of wonderment.

    The exclamation mark did not have its own dedicated key on standard manual typewriters before the 1970s. Instead, one typed a period, backspaced, and typed an apostrophe.[5] In the 1950s, secretarial dictation and typesetting manuals in America referred to the mark as “bang,”[6][7] perhaps from comic books where the ! appeared in dialogue balloons to represent a gun being fired,[8] although the nickname probably emerged from letterpress printing.[9] This bang usage is behind the titles of the interrobang, an uncommon typographic character, and a shebang line, a feature of Unix computer systems.
    ———————————————

    In the 21st century however, it’s the politically correct exclamation mark. Get with the program, people.

  22. candy

    Now tell us about the history of the semicolon, smarty pants Gab!

  23. Gab

    The first printed semicolon was the work of the Italian printer Aldus Manutius, the Elder in 1494.[1] Manutius established the practice of using the semicolon to separate words of opposed meaning and to allow a rapid change in direction in connecting interdependent statements.[2] Ben Jonson was the first notable English writer to use the semicolon systematically. The modern uses of the semicolon relate either to the listing of items or to the linking of related clauses.

    According to Lynne Truss, a British writer on grammar, many non-writers avoid the colon and semicolon for various reasons: “They are old-fashioned”, “They are middle-class”, “They are optional”, “They are mysteriously connected to pausing”, “They are dangerously addictive (vide Virginia Woolf)”, and “The difference between them is too negligible to be grasped by the brain of man”.[3]

    ; )

  24. Infidel Tiger

    Sorry Gab, but I’ll have to wait for Deadman to confirm that.

  25. Myrddin Seren

    On a related ( I hope ) note – I sadly lament the passing of the letter ‘R’ in spoken Australian

    eg “She said that she knew the marijuana was in the body bag… She said she’d bought the drugs [into Bali] before three times,” Lawrence said.

    No – Schapelle bRought the drugs in to Bali.

    Listen to any newsreader taking about the construction of roads, bridges and airports – it is now by universal acclaim ‘Infastructure’.

    Au revoir beloved letter ‘R’ – you will be missed.

  26. candy

    They are old-fashioned”, “They are middle-class”, “They are optional”, “They are mysteriously connected to pausing”, “They are dangerously addictive (vide Virginia Woolf)”, and “The difference between them is too negligible to be grasped by the brain of man”.[3]

    That’s hilarious!

  27. C.L.

    Probably the worst dog’s dick addict in the sphere is Jim Hoft of GWP!

    Outrageous! Muslims behead elderly nurse!

    And so on.

  28. Myrddin Seren

    Wooooo

    and just noticed

    ‘She said that she knew the marijuana was in the body bag

    I really don’t think Renae Lawrence makes a credible witness.

  29. H B Bear

    Spiked is campaigning for free speech on US campuses?

    In the words of the Irishman asked for directions, “Well I wouldn’t be starting from here.” US universities have more in common with the grass eating North Koreans than a product of the Enlightenment.

  30. calli

    The exclamation mark did not have its own dedicated key on standard manual typewriters before the 1970s. Instead, one typed a period, backspaced, and typed an apostrophe.

    Confirmed. I owned an ancient ‘Royal’ (circa 1940) – no ‘!’. Learning to type on one of those things made one’s little fingers as strong as steel from moving the shift keys. It also had a cute bell to alert the typist that the end of the line was approaching. The number one rule was ‘protect the platen!’.

  31. stackja

    Capitalism! Or mixed case? Lower case? Class warfare!

  32. Squirrel

    “We could learn a lot from our Left libertarian chums…..”

    What do we want? Free speech!
    When do we want it?
    Now!!

    Hey hey, ho ho!
    18C’s just got to go!!

    “70s Playboy

    #1257065, posted on April 8, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Hmmm, hammy – all lower case, no exclamation marks. Conspiracy?”

    Could be the work of Archy (Mehitabel is purring).

    “Free Advice

    #1257095, posted on April 8, 2014 at 8:52 am

    I read somewhere that the question mark is dissapearing, particularly for rhetorical questions!”

    But the rising intonation shall live on, forever (okay?)

    “Myrddin Seren

    #1257176, posted on April 8, 2014 at 10:12 am

    On a related ( I hope ) note – I sadly lament the passing of the letter ‘R’ in spoken Australian

    eg “She said that she knew the marijuana was in the body bag… She said she’d bought the drugs [into Bali] before three times,” Lawrence said.

    No – Schapelle bRought the drugs in to Bali.

    Listen to any newsreader taking about the construction of roads, bridges and airports – it is now by universal acclaim ‘Infastructure’.

    Au revoir beloved letter ‘R’ – you will be missed.”

    Infastructure – all the fault of that wascally Albo (maybe “r” was one of Swannie’s famous Budget “saves”)

  33. sparky

    Listen to any newsreader taking about the construction of roads, bridges and airports – it is now by universal acclaim ‘Infastructure’”

    Speaking of talking heads, has anyone noticed the( annoying) habit at least two media types ( Bruce Macavany and David Koch )have in not completely finishing off the last word in a sentence?
    Viz
    a)” The Crows will be up against stiff competition when they play (xxx ) at Edihad Stayd.”
    b) Almost everything Kochie utters.
    These blokes originated in South Australia.
    Q: Is it an Adelaide Thi?

  34. lotocoti

    Q: Is it an Adelaide Thi?

    No.
    Audio operators find their voices contrary to what’s suitable for transmission and close their mics as quickly as possible.
    That’s why they get clipped.

  35. Myrddin Seren

    Is it an Adelaide Thi?

    To my mind – South Australia has the closest thing to a regional accent compared to the rest of Australia.

    When the young Serens were kids, there used to be a lot more kids content from SA on TV.

    Where we might say ‘Jack and Jill go up the hill’

    the SA presenters would say ‘Jack and Jiw go up the hiwa’ The ‘L’ largely disappears.

    In discussing the Australian accent with folk from much smaller nations with much wider diversity in regional accents, I regularly note that the unusual thing about Australia is the commonality of speech patterns across the nation. The defining things seem to be employment and education, generally – above Adelaide exception not included.

    The Gillard accent is not representative. The late Christopher Pearson attributed to Bob Carr the observation that Ms Gillard had attempted to effect the Slater & Gordon house accent. And not with any great success.

  36. james

    Wasnt the Spiked crew that bunch of rather interesting former lefties from LM magazine?

    Strange yet compelling fellows.

  37. Myrddin Seren

    Wasnt the Spiked crew that bunch of rather interesting former lefties from LM magazine?

    Yup – the heirs of ‘Living Marxism’.

    To Hammy they are thus far right fascists.

    Lord knows what the Hammy-bot considers an extreme leftists to be ?

  38. Boambee John

    “Listen to any newsreader taking about the construction of roads, bridges and airports – it is now by universal acclaim ‘Infastructure’.”

    And “environment has long become “envionment”.

    To think that the media panned Pauline Hanson for her pronunciation, and now uses the same style.

  39. Myrddin Seren

    To think that the media panned Pauline Hanson

    You can pretty much stop there.

    Driving around a year or so ago listening to 2WS, they played an interview between the celeb breakfast team and Celeb Apprentice winner Julia Morris – comic (?) and Lefty ( but I repeat myself ).

    Morris had to grudgingly admit that on location shoots, by far and away the most popular Celeb Apprentice was Pauline Hanson. – shock, horror -

  40. james

    Morris had to grudgingly admit that on location shoots, by far and away the most popular Celeb Apprentice was Pauline Hanson.

    I am surprised we had any lefties left after she was on DWTS.

    I assumed they all died of shock. Whoever signed her up for that helped to buy that program at least an extra season or two.

    Genius.

  41. pete m

    Libel laws must stay. Otherwise agreed.

    or bring back duelling.

  42. james

    bring back duelling.

    +1

  43. Abu Chowdah

    It’s a far right fascistic site. “Left libertarians”! What a stupid figment of Cater’s imagination.

    Frank Furedi:

    …much of the left in the twentieth century tended to be influenced by Stalinist and Social-Democratic traditions, which means they could not imagine that you could be left-wing and anti-state…so they were confused by us. But that was their fault, not ours. It was a product of their own abandonment of liberty in favour of ideas about state control.

    So, STFU Hamster, you Stalinist tool.

  44. papachango

    I have some sympathy for the viewpoints of so-called ‘left libertarians’, and particularly people like Brendan O’Neill and his excellent defence of freedom of expression.
    It’s hard to believe he still calls himself a Marxist – most moden day proponents of Marxism, and most likely ol’ Karl himself were and are all in favour of a revolutionary state silencing all dissent as being necessary to prevent reactionary bourgois counterrevolutionaries, or somesuch guff.
    If this is how lefties really thought – genuinely sticking up for individual rights, not just on a few trendy causes à la The Greena – then I might have been tempted to lean a bit left myself.
    However I think Left libertarianism is really an oxymoron. You cannot be all that libertarian if you support an ideology that has, at it’s core, concepts like ‘the public interest’ or ‘the greater good’, which emphasise that the individual is subservient to the collective. This has much more in common with national socialism (sometimes ironically called ‘far right’) than it does with libertarianism.
    Alternatively, maybe left libertarian are really just libertarians who have been brought up to believe that left = good, right=bad, and just don’t want to drop the label
    Perhaps there are some people who genuinely believe in Marx’s stateless, classless utopia – i.e. that we will all someday voluntarily become good communists with no need for the state to force us to do so. Let’s be kind and say that these people are just a little naïve…

  45. nerblnob

    You should try corresponding with Russians. Exclamation marks are polite form with them. They sound unfeasibly excited to hear from you.

    “Dear nerblnob! Yes! I received your quote! Thank you for that!

  46. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    many non-writers avoid the colon and semicolon for various reasons

    I would have (so far) to class myself as a ‘non-writer’ but I love the semi-colon. The colon less so: it always seems rather like throwing up. In contrast to the expulsive colon, the semi-colon is merely a gentle touch, additive, reflective even; although obviously rather refined, it is not middle-class. A well-behaved semi-colon is upper middle-class at the very least, I should think. Like most terribly ‘U’ things though, such Mitfordism in punctuation can be tedious if overdone, as can the more boring middle-class style, which is quite conjunctive; full of ‘ands’ and buts’. On the matter of showing one’s place in the punctuation pecking order, a good apostrophe is also well-bred. A bad apostrophe is just using your desert spoon for your soup. A full stop is robust; Da Hairy Irish Ape is fond of them. Lack of capitalisation is for those who can use chopsticks well.

    Exclamation marks are for spotting mice: eek!
    Or for correcting children and Da Hairy Ape: don’t!

  47. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    libertarians who have been brought up to believe that left = good, right=bad, and just don’t want to drop the label

    It is hard to drop the left label because you also drop the friends. Voice of experience speaking here. I definitely tone myself down a little for those leftie friends I still care to see. One ‘confessed’ to me that she voted Liberal at the last Federal election; if was as if she was admitting adultery or secretly feeding her children nothing but sugar-coated and fat-blasted Ultra Coco-Pops. Such a big no-no.

    It gets easier each time, I told her wisely. Not adultery (don’t do it), not dropping the food-Nazism (good idea), but putting that little cross in the Liberal box. So hard at first.

  48. nerblnob

    I didn’t know colons and semi-colons were middle class. I went to Catholic school.

  49. Anne

    Myddin Seen
    #1257176, posted on April 8, 2014 at 10:12 am
    On a related ( I hope ) note – I sadly lament the passing of the letter ‘R’ in spoken Australian
    No – Schapelle bRought the drugs in to Bali.

    Listen to any newsreader taking about the construction of roads, bridges and airports – it is now by universal acclaim ‘Infastructure’.

    Au revoir beloved letter ‘R’ – you will be missed.

    I feel your pain Myddin: sadly it’s a common error. The one, however, that really grates on my brain is the pronunciation of the word ‘vulnerable’, vuNNerable!!!!!!! Aaaghhh…makes me twitch!

  50. The styles of punctuation have changed slightly but significantly since Gibbon brought it almost to perfection, as readers of Austen and Dickens well know; the punctuation in Trollope’s early novels are very nearly modern in style; and the punctuation in early Wodehouse is exquisite. I had to stop reading To the Lighthouse after twenty or so pages because I was so disgusted by Woolf’s irksome abuse of semicolons. The punctuation in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph, by T.E. Lawrence, is at times decidedly idiosyncratic—but we can easily identify those whom we ought to assign at least some blame:

    The book so written passed in 1921 into proof: where it was fortunate in the friends who criticised it. Particularly it owes its thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Shaw for countless suggestions of great value and diversity: and for all the present colons.

    The opening sentence of Crotchet Castle (1837) by T. L. Peacock:

    In one of those beautiful vallies, through which the Thames (not yet polluted by the tide, the scouring of cities, or even the minor defilement of the sandy streams of Surrey,) rolls a clear flood through flowery meadows, under the shade of old beech woods, and the smooth mossy greensward of the chalk hills (which pour into it their tributary rivulets, as pure and pellucid as the fountain of Bandusium, or the wells of Scamander, by which the wives and daughters of the Trojans washed their splendid garments in the days of peace, before the coming of the Greeks); in one of those beautiful vallies, on a bold round-surfaced lawn, spotted with juniper, that opened itself in the bosom of an old wood, which rose with a steep, but not precipitous ascent, from the river to the summit of the hill, stood the castellated villa of a retired citizen.

    The concluding sentence—try reading it one breath!—of “The Four Ages of Poetry”* (1820), by T.L. Peacock:

    Now when we consider that it is not the thinking and studious, and scientific and philosophical part of the community, not to those whose minds are bent on the pursuit and promotion of permanently useful ends and aims, that poets must address their minstrelry, but to that much larger portion of the reading public, whose minds are not awakened to the desire of valuable knowledge, and who are indifferent to any thing beyond being charmed, moved, excited, affected, and exalted: charmed by harmony, moved by sentiment, excited by passion, affected by pathos, and exalted by sublimity: harmony, which is language on the rack of Procrustes; sentiment, which is canting egotism in the mask of refined feeling; passion, which is the commotion of a weak and selfish mind; pathos, which is the whining of an unmanly spirit; and sublimity, which is the inflation of an empty head: when we consider that the great and permanent interests of human society become more and more the main spring of intellectual pursuit; that in proportion as they become so, the subordinacy of the ornamental to the useful will be more and more seen and acknowledged; and that therefore the progress of useful art and science, and of moral and political knowledge, will continue more and more to withdraw attention from frivolous and unconducive, to solid and conducive studies: that therefore the poetical audience will not only continually diminish in the proportion of its number to that of the rest of the reading public, but will also sink lower and lower in the comparison of intellectual acquirement: when we consider that the poet must still please his audience, and must therefore continue to sink to their level, while the rest of the community is rising above it: we may easily conceive that the day is not distant, when the degraded state of every species of poetry will be as generally recognised as that of dramatic poetry has long been: and this not from any decrease either of intellectual power, or intellectual acquisition, but because intellectual power and intellectual acquisition have turned themselves into other and better channels, and have abandoned the cultivation and the fate of poetry to the degenerate fry of modern rhymesters, and their olympic judges, the magazine critics, who continue to debate and promulgate oracles about poetry, as if it were still what it was in the Homeric age, the all-in-all of intellectual progression, and as if there were no such things in existence as mathematicians, astronomers, chemists, moralists, metaphysicians, historians, politicians, and political economists, who have built into the upper air of intelligence a pyramid, from the summit of which they see the modern Parnassus far beneath them, and, knowing how small a place it occupies in the comprehensiveness of their prospect, smile at the little ambition and the circumscribed perceptions with which the drivellers and mountebanks upon it are contending for the poetical palm and the critical chair.

    * P.B. Shelley wrote his “Defence of Poetry” in response to “The Four Ages of Poetry”.

  51. Bons

    But, you have to give it to Spiked; they are totally balanced; they hate everyone!!!!!

  52. Boambee John

    “pronunciation of the word ‘vulnerable’, vuNNerable!!!!!!! Aaaghhh…makes me twitch!”

    Anne, actually, that’s pronounced “vunnable”, without the “r”.

  53. Tintarella di Luna

    And “environment has long become “envionment”.

    it’s in print now too — saw it on a Billboard at a railway station saying something or other was good for the envionment.

  54. Tintarella di Luna

    It’s hard to believe he still calls himself a Marxist

    He explained why he still saw himself as a Marxist the other night at the Occidental Hotel – it’s because Marx was so anti-establishment and seeing as the Leftist greenslime are now the establishment then I must be a Marxist too.

  55. nonmus

    Some of these padderns of speech are more predinent and impordant to the Labor pardy

  56. 70s Playboy

    Very inneressing discussion

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